United Nations to Launch African Soap Opera With HIV/AIDS Prevention Messages
The United Nations in July will launch "Heart and Soul," a weekly television and radio soap opera intended to spread HIV/AIDS prevention messages and awareness about other issues affecting Africa, BBC News reports. The drama, which is sponsored by 24 U.N. agencies, as well as the World Bank, the British Council and the BBC, will air in English and Kiswahili over the radio in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda and in English on television in 22 African nations through an arrangement with TV Africa, a private South African company. During the show's second season, set to begin in December, there are plans to broadcast it in French and possibly Portuguese. Promoters have begun airing three-minute "teasers" for the soap during the World Cup. The spots feature Noah Meli, the patriarch of one of the families on the show, who is dying of AIDS-related causes. The first episode will begin with Noah's funeral, and promoters plan to run "obituaries" in major newspapers prior to the first episode as a means of advertising the show (BBC News, 6/1).
Awareness Through Entertainment
The soap opera is modeled after "Soul City," a South African multi-media "edutainment" drama that has aired since 1992 ("Heart and Soul" Web site, 6/3). A survey of "Soul City" viewers found that 95% said they have learned something from watching the show. "Heart and Soul" will also discuss poverty reduction, environmental protection, governance and human rights and gender issues. Production costs for the show are estimated to be more than $1 million, and officials have so far raised about one-third of that amount. Matthew Robinson of the BBC, a consultant on the show, said that the soap is "meant to engage people" and not be "totally message-based" (BBC News, 6/1). A preview of "Heart and Soul" is available online ("Heart and Soul" Web site, 6/3).